Directed by Fritz Kiersch
Writen by Stephen King (short story), George Goldsmith (screenplay)
Starring: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, and R.G. Armstrong
A boy preacher named Isaac goes to a town in Nebraska called Gatlin and gets all the children to murder every adult in town. A young couple have a murder to report and they go to the nearest town (Gatlin) to seek help but the town seems deserted. They are soon trapped in Gatlin with little chance of getting out alive.
I keep forgetting how great and equally terrible this movie is. This is my wife’s favorite horror movie. Not because it’s brimming with great acting or terrifying special effects, but because this was the first horror movie she ever watched, and apparently the imagery stuck. First impressions are worth their weight in rubies.
You have to hand it to Stephen King. I grew up in the heart of central Illinois and I assure you that I had no fear of corn fields. I didn’t until 1984 anyway. In the right hands something as innocuous as corn can be terrifying.
A young couple, Burt (Peter Horton), and Vicky (the young and gorgeous, Linda Hamilton) are driving across the barren state of Nebraska when a young boy runs from out of a cornfield and into the path of their car. Upon inspection, Burt finds the boy has a slit throat, something that didn’t occur upon impact. This freaky happening sets the terrifying plot into motion as they travel to the ghost town of Gatlin. Unusual for a town that wants to be overlooked, is the constant road signs informing you how far away you are. Wouldn’t a town of religiously insane kids take an axe to these signs if they want to remain hidden?
“What’s a GPS?”
The young couple finds the desolate town and things couldn’t be any creepier. I can’t decide why I find this so scary, but the dead cornstalks that decorate the entire town like dust or spider webs, just freaks me out. Did the “One Who Walks Behind the Rows” unleash a smoke monster moment and tornado through the town or did the evil and misguided children decorate the abandoned homes and businesses? Either way, it works. I’m officially creeped out.
“Ok, who wants to say it this time? We’ve said “interloper” seventy times already…”
As the plot thickens, our young protagonists discover the evil plot being enforced by the terrifying child preacher, Isaac (John Franklin) and his older and creepier counterpart, the dreaded Malachai (Courtney Gains). Being adults, they assume they can just slap around a group of kids and tweens, yeah, not so much. Things go from bad to worse as it becomes clear that there is something that truly walks behind the rows. A frantic plot involving agricultural irrigation and gasoline save the day.
Isaac instantly regrets not calling this “Children of the Beans”.
The overall mood and set design of Children of the Corn works so well. This really is a retro horror classic. Sure, there’s a lot of shitty child acting, but within the confines of this movie, it’s easy to overlook. The use of folksy corn art used to make crosses and other religious icons is very effective. If you’re watching it again, pay attention to the paintings of Jesus that have been eerily altered with corn. I can’t isolate the root, but those scenes set me on edge. The Children of the Corn is the perfect retro horror flick for the long summer. Turn the lights off, scootch closer to your significant other on the couch, light a candle and enjoy the awesomeness that is 80′s horror movies, a Stephen King inspired 80′s flick at that.